Guest Post: Reflecting on My Nurse Preceptorship

The following is a guest post from the New to Nursing blog by Abbye Caplan

I am sitting here reflecting on my time as a student nurse. I remember one particular clinical where my instructor told me, “Abbye, make sure you follow your nurse around wherever she goes. It is so important to pick her brain, and most importantly, this is not a spectator sport, you need to be involved at all times.”

I could tell I was annoying the nurse I was assigned (glued) to. Let’s call her Betsy. I literally became Betsy’s shadow. I’m pretty sure she almost tripped over my feet on several occasions. She went to get a flush and an alcohol swab, I was right behind her. She went to the computer to check an order, I sat down next to her. She sat down in crowded nursing rounds, I squeezed in next to her. And then the great moment came. Betsy got up from nursing rounds and headed toward what I thought was a supply closet. I trailed behind her. Maybe she needed help gathering some supplies? I wonder why she just got up and didn’t tell me what she was doing? She opened the door, turned around and said, “Abbye, I have to use the bathroom, you don’t need to follow me in here.” Embarrassed, I apologized and sat down at the nurses’ station and waited for Betsy to return.

I can laugh at this story now, but at the time I wanted to run away and hide. We have students on my unit at least twice a week and I have definitely had some students who became my shadow. It can get to be a bit bothersome, and I often have remind myself that I was a student once and it’s not fair to get annoyed. I know how meaningful a good clinical experience is.

Our last group of nursing students gave out certificates to 3 nurses from our unit for being “exemplary teachers, mentors, and role models.” I was one of the 3! It was really exciting to be recognized, especially since I am one of the newer nurses on the unit. I’ve come a long way and I am happy to share the skills that I have acquired over the last 16 months.

I will leave you with one last piece of advice: If you have a student who doesn’t leave your side, spare him/her the embarrassment and let them know when you are headed towards the bathroom.

Reprinted with permission of Advance for Nurses

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